MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota — July is expected to be the busiest month at Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
More than a dozen domestic destinations will be added back to the schedule in July. Average daily aircraft departures are expected to increase from 138 in June to 233 in July. However, that's still significantly lower than the daily average of 554 from July 2019.
With more travelers, Metropolitan Airports Commission (MAC) Executive Director and CEO Brian Ryks said people may be wondering, "Can I feel confident that appropriate steps have been taken to make it safe for me to fly again? And the resounding answer is absolutely yes."
Ryks said while there's always a risk of getting COVID-19 while traveling, the MAC has spent the past few months working on a health safety program called "Travel Confidently." They announced the program on Thursday morning during a press conference as they try to increase awareness of the steps they've taken.
"Every one of our employees that shows up to work gets a temperature screening and from there we expect them to wear a mask in the public setting," Ryks said.
The Travel Confidently program is a partnership with airlines, concessionaires, federal agencies and others.
It includes more thorough and frequent cleaning of MSP Airport, especially focusing on high-touch areas. Earlier this month, the airport began electrostatic disinfectant spraying of the public areas of Terminal 1 and Terminal 2.
Other COVID-19 safety measures include signs and floor decals reminding travelers to social distance, about 50 hand sanitizing stations and more than 130 shield guards.
Delaware North has 16 locations at MSP, providing food, beverage and retail services.
"We can accept touchless payment such as Apple, Samsung and Google Pay. At our food and beverage locations we have in place contactless ordering from your mobile device is available and currently we're working on the same thing in our retail space," General Manager Pia McDonough said.
The MAC strongly encourages travelers to wear masks but it's not required.
"What we are pushing for at a national level is clear and consistent standards around this. We want to make sure that whatever airport a passenger is departing from, arriving to, or connecting through, that there is a clear and consistent standard. So we continue to work with our national trade organizations and Congress to do just that," Ryks said.
Many major airlines, including Delta, require passengers to wear masks while flying with them.
"We're filling our planes to 60% full. We are pulling planes out of the desert as we speak and our strategy is, as we see those planes get full, closer to 60%, we're strategically putting more aircraft on the markets that need it," said Ben Humphrey, Delta Air Lines VP of Operations at MSP.
Ronald Edmonds was stuck in North Carolina and did not feel comfortable traveling home until now.
"It was worrisome. I was worried because of course the six-foot code was going to be broken," Edmonds said. "I was worried but I think I made it back safely."
The MAC is also encouraging travelers to pre-book parking online. Through using QR codes, travelers are able to enter and exit the parking ramps without touching anything.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, because travel increases your chances of getting infected and spreading COVID-19, staying home is the best way to protect yourself and others.
The CDC's website has a list of things to consider before traveling.